ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- In a season where the Detroit Lions finished the season with nine straight losses and averaged giving up 400 yards a game to opponents, general manager Bob Quinn distilled the team's problems down to a simple phrase.
"We didn't finish."
It's a mantra both he and Lions head coach Matt Patricia repeated often Monday in their season-ending news conferences. Detroit led in 13 of 16 games in 2019. But there was also a recognition of a complete look at the organization after two failed seasons under Patricia that led to a 9-22-1 record and two last-place finishes in the NFC North.
That performance led to questions about the job security of both Quinn and Patricia. Quinn, in his first public comments since being retained, was both thankful for the opportunity and "confident in my abilities" to have a fifth season as the team's general manager. The win-now edict from the Ford family, Quinn said, won't change his approach to both the short- and long-term view of how to build the organization.
"Obviously we need to win next year. I understand that," Quinn said. "But when you're trying to build the organization, you're trying to create this lasting ability to win, you have to make decisions that are prudent for short-term and long-term. It has to be a combination of both."
It has been that thought -- along with a foundation Patricia and Quinn believe they have built with the Lions over the past two years -- that is part of the reason for their return in 2020. Even though the timeline has potentially shortened from ownership, the general manager and head coach didn't seem like they were going to change their overarching approach.
All of this comes two years after Quinn said Jim Caldwell's back-to-back 9-7 seasons -- and two playoff appearances in four years -- was not good enough to keep him around. Instead, Quinn hired Patricia to take the Lions to what he believed was a championship level.
They responded by winning nine games overall in two seasons. When Quinn was asked why 9-7 wasn't good enough two seasons ago but 9-22-1 is good enough for Patricia to return, Quinn pointed to not wanting to "bring it down to the basement again and start the foundation again."
Instead, the Lions will continue to search for answers after the franchise "didn't win enough." Quinn wouldn't put a timetable on how long it will take Detroit to be a Super Bowl contender but called that "the money question, right?"
Quinn then said the Lions have many things to improve on and the multitude of issues that led Detroit to holding the No. 3 pick in the draft. He pointed to 16 players on injured reserve -- although only five of those players were on IR when Chicago eliminated Detroit from playoff contention on Thanksgiving -- and the team's competition level throughout the year.
In evaluating what needs to change, Quinn said they will look at everything, from injury prevention to scheme to roster construction and even the "what-if" scenarios of the season -- including ones that Quinn pointed out like Da'Shawn Hand missing most of the season and players not performing at the level Quinn and Patricia expected.
"The fans don't deserve excuses. They deserve answers," Quinn said. "And that's kind of what we have to sit back in the next couple weeks and months and really with a wide-open lens and then to narrow that lens down to when we have to make bigger decisions coming forward on the team to put a better product on the field next season."